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Chinese Alternatives to Popular Apps and Websites

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Chinese alternative apps

Everybody knows Facebook is not accessible in China. The reason for that is the “Great Firewall”, a project by the Chinese government to control access to the internet for people living in China. But it’s not only Facebook that’s blocked; YouTube, Google, WhatsApp, Tinder – are just some of the other common websites and apps that are inaccessible from Mainland China. While there are ways to break through the firewall, it is often easier to get familiar with some Chinese alternatives to your favourite apps and sites. Some of them work just like the international version. The only difference? They work in China too.

Chinese Alternative(s) to Google

It is almost impossible to imagine a world without being able to easily google everything you don’t know. But there is a “world” where this is the case – in China, all services by Google are blocked. That does not only include the Search Engine, but also Mail, Maps, Play Store, Music and every other service. But don’t worry too much, there are a ton of alternatives!

Baidu

To quickly search the Internet, Baidu works – to an extent. If you search for Chinese results with Chinese keywords, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. English? Not so much. Still, it works in China and it sometimes gives you results that are good enough, even when you are not able to search with Chinese Keywords.

Bing

It might not really be the go-to search engine in the western world, but you will learn to love Bing in China. It works in English. It has Maps. It has a translation tool. But mostly, it gives you the search results you are looking for, in a language that you understand.

Chinese Alternative(s) to Google Maps

Especially in big Chinese cities, it is very hard to get around without the help of a good guide – or an app, that tells you where to go. Google Maps is not available. Even when you manage to connect to Google Maps, the information there is mostly outdated and not very accurate. That means, you should get used to the Chinese Alternatives as soon as possible!

InternAsia Chinese Map APP Alternative

Baidu Maps

Once again, Baidu. Baidu offers most of what Google does in the western world. Baidu Maps offer a lot: Navigation, Street View, Tips and Reviews. The only downside is, once again: it is only available in Chinese. As soon as you start to get familiar with the streets around you though, it is a great help! If you create an account, you can even save your favorite places (or especially the address of your apartment). What more could you want?

Gaode Maps

Gaode Maps or amap was bought by Alibaba in 2014 and is also one of the largest map services in China. While it offers the same functions as Google Maps and Baidu Maps, it also lacks a non-Chinese version – like Baidu Maps.

Chinese Alternative to WhatsApp

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 and has been part of Facebook since 2014. It is used by 1.5 billion people all over the world and has played a substantial role in the decline of traditional text messages. When you come to China, you’ll find that nobody uses WhatsApp, apart from foreigners texting home.

WeChat

WeChat definitely is the number 1 alternative to WhatsApp in China. It is used by over a billion people daily – most of them in China. While it used to be a simple chat application, WeChat is much more than that today: You can pay in restaurants and supermarkets with it, split the bill with your friends, book trains and flights, order food and clothing and pay your rent with it! Of course, there are also some downsides to it: it does not offer encrypted communication, and all data is shared with the Chinese government. There is an app for Android and iOS as well as programs for Windows and macOS – all of which are free.

To use the more advanced functions of the app, you need to link your Chinese bank account to your WeChat account. This does usually not take long and is therefore a great way to extend the functions of the app as well as making your life in China way easier (who wants to use cash anyway?).

Chinese Alternative to YouTube

YouTube offers a broad range of funny, instructional and informative videos for people all over the world – yet China does not allow users to access YouTube from inside China. For your daily dose of videos, there are some similar apps for the Chinese market.

Toudou Youku

The name already sounds a bit like its big brother, but Toudou Youku is a completely independent video platform with a lot of content – obviously almost exclusively in Chinese. If you are proficient in that language and looking for content in Chinese though, Toudou Youku is something you have to look at!

InternAsia Chinese Alternative Spotify

Chinese Alternative to Spotify

Streaming apps have changed the way that people listen to music nowadays. And they are extremely useful – sadly, Spotify does not work in China. Of course, there are several alternatives that do work though. Apple Music does work in China, but it is of course not a Chinese app.

QQ Music

QQ Music has a huge number of users. It is, like WeChat, part of the Tencent ecosystem. It offers many Chinese songs – but also international songs. In fact, you should have almost no problem in finding the same songs on QQ Music that you listen to on Spotify at home. In the basic version, QQ is free, but some of the songs require either a premium subscription or a direct purchase in the app.

InternAsia Chinese Alternative TinderChinese Alternative to Tinder

Tinder is the biggest dating app in the world – but it is also banned in China. Don’t worry though, there are a lot of alternatives to help you browse the Chinese singles market (which are also free to use). Most of these apps function the same way as Tinder, so the language barrier should not lower your chances of success!

Tantan

One of many alternatives, but it is very easy to use: Tantan. It is very much the same as Tinder: Log in, create your profile, start swiping! It is a good idea to be able to speak at least a little bit of Chinese though, since most people using this app are Chinese speakers (and its impressive and useful to learn Chinese, too!). Another cool feature is that you can see how many people already swiped right on you – so you can keep track of your popularity!

Chinese Alternative to Instagram

Instagram is a great way to let your friends and family be a part of your travels and your life in general. However, Instagram is a part of Facebook, and maybe for that reason not available from Mainland China. If you want to build your followers on the Chinese market, you might need some alternatives.

Xiaohongshu

As with many other Chinese Apps, Xiaohongshu is not just one function in an app. Rather, it combines Instagram with E-Commerce. Users can livestream themselves to review products (and mostly clothes), and you can buy these products directly from the app, too. 

Chinese Alternative to TikTok

You either love it or you hate it, but there is no denying that TikTok is one of the most popular apps of 2019. Fortunately, TikTok is Chinese, so finally some good news; it is completely available and functional in China too! You do not need any alternative for it, you can just continue using it the same way as you did at home.

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